GREENEVILLE — The Lenoir-Rhyne men’s basketball team used a 14-0 run in the second half as the Bears rallied from a ninepoint deficit en route to a 59-52 South Atlantic Conference win at Tusculum Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena.
The Bears (11-4, 4-3 SAC) shut out the Pioneers (4-11, 2-5 SAC) behind the threepoint line as TC went 0-for-7 from beyond the arc, ending a remarkable streak of 709 consecutive games with at least one made three-pointer. The streak dates back to the inception of the three-point shot over 25 years ago.
Trailing 37-28 with 17:57 left in the game, L-R applied a full-court press and scored 14 unanswered points in a span of 4:54. L-R went 10-of-12 from the free throw line during the run and got a three-point play by Jarvis Perry.
With L-R leading 42-37, the Pioneers responded with a 5-0 spurt, sparked by four markers from Neal Spinks and one-of-two free throws by Darius Carter as TC tied the scored at 42-42 with 9:29 remaining in the contest.
The two teams would score a combined 10 points over the next six minutes as the two teams were locked in a defensive battle. With L-R up 48-46 with 3:39 left, B.J. Beasley connected on a pair of free throws and after a pair of misses by the home team, L-R’s Denzel Dillingham drained a three-pointer to give the Bears a 53-46 lead with 2:38 left on the clock.
Keith Jumper put down a thunderous dunk, but Dillingham made a basket on the ensuing possession to put the Bears in front, 55-48.
Carter made a pair of free throws to bring TC to within five again (55-50) with 1:24 remaining. Tusculum stopped the L-R on its next trip up the floor, but Dillingham came up with a steal and a layup with 40 seconds left as the Bears led 57-50 to put the game out of reach.
L-R forced 15 turnovers in the second half and scored 15 of its 33 points in the period off of TC miscues. The Bears shot 7-of-22 from the floor, but made up for it with 18-of-22 (82 percent) from the charity stripe in the final 20 minutes.
Dillingham led all scorers with 17 points and a game-high six steals, including five thefts in the second half. R.J. McClure added 14 points, including a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line. Beasley added nine markers and nine boards, while Jarvis finished with seven points and four assists.
Carter led the Pioneers with his 14 points, while Jumper finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. Neal Spinks added 10 points and six rebounds, while his brother Nick Spinks added five points, four assists and four rebounds in the loss. Addison Flynn, TC top three-point threat, was held to three points before fouling out with 4:14 left in the game.